Mitte is it
By Bernd Oertwig
“Where do you live in Berlin?” “When you come in, immediately on the left.” Famous saying by the famous Max Liebermann. The painter lived right next to the Brandenburg Gate. It still doesn’t get any more direct than that. Today, the replica is the Liebermann House. Almost like back then. Only the glass roof is missing. The master needed a lot of light upstairs in his studio. The professor didn’t have to go far from his easel to his president’s desk in the Academy of Arts. Just once diagonally across Pariser Platz.
Much is new in this square in the heart of the city. Also the academy. It stands where the old one used to be. Flats on Pariser Platz are sought after, in demand – and hard to come by. 1 A-location for all those who don’t mind tourists. Gallery owners live next to politicians, CEOs next to diplomats. The French Embassy stands where Madame Du Titre once went in and out of her well-married daughter. Madame was known throughout the city for her motherly wit and legendary Berlinish. With her husband, a well-heeled cloth manufacturer, she belonged to the circles that were always received by the king.
On one occasion, Frederick William III inquired about her son-in-law, who was in Rome at the time. Madame Du Titre boasted: “All Tuesdays and Fridays at the Pope’s in Rome for tea, and the Pope is as kind to my daughter as Majestätken is to me.
Mitte. One of Berlin’s districts since 1920. Core of historic Berlin. Here Berlin and Cölln lay opposite each other on the banks of the Spree and merged. The city flourished, was besieged, had its Quadriga stolen by Napoleon, attracted people from all over the world as Europe’s magnet of whirlwinds in the 1920s, was reduced to rubble, had to have itself walled in and is today the incomparable Berlin. The Quadriga, by the way, was of course reclaimed by Prussia. Since then, however, one of the four horses is no longer a real Schadow. The French copy, however, is only noticeable on very close inspection.
With the next administrative reform, Mitte had to grow. Tiergarten and Wedding have been part of it since 2001. This means that the old workers’ neighbourhood of Ackerstraße, which once had seven backyards, is just as much Mitte in Wedding as Unter den Linden and the Tipi am Kanzleramt in Tiergarten.
Because it has been Mitte for centuries, Mitte has the most sights and monuments of all twelve Berlin districts. Still very fresh: the Humboldt Forum without a hyphen, but on a historic site. This is where the Berlin Palace stood, blown up by the SED leadership under Walter Ulbricht in 1950, although the building fabric could be saved. Even with new buildings, the bosses under socialism did not always have a happy hand. The Palace of the Republic, which was built in place of the palace, was well received by many. Others blatantly mocked Erich’s lamp shop. Nowhere else in the city were there so many lamps as in the house where Erich Honecker was celebrated.
Not everything went smoothly at the TV tower on the Alex. The sunlight refracts in the famous restaurant dome and causes a city-wide cross to glow. This allegedly angered the GDR bigwigs so much that they seriously considered tearing down the dome and rebuilding it. But maybe it’s just an on dit.
Directly opposite the Humboldt Forum is the Lustgarten with the cathedral and the Altes Museum at the front. Nowhere else in the city are there so many museums in such a small space as on the Museum Island. Old National Gallery, New Museum, Bode Museum, James Simon Gallery, Pergamon Museum.
Going to the theatre in the evening after Museum Day? Why not. The Berliner Ensemble almost on the banks of the Spree. The opening in the quay wall is very hidden, hardly to be discovered. The Panke secretly seeps into the Spree here. The river that meanders through Wedding. As is well known, also Mitte.
Getting tickets for the BE is tricky. Bert Brecht could hardly have dreamed that his theatre would be as good as sold out every performance day.
Practically diagonally across the embankment is the Friedrichstadt-Palast with the largest theatre stage in the world. Visitors come by the busload.
The Deutsches Theater in Schumannstraße plays for its audience very close by. The legendary Max Reinhardt ran it at the beginning of the 20th century. Big names, big theatre. Practically around the corner, on Reinhardtstraße, is an old bunker. Years ago, a gallery owner and collector bought it and turned it into one of the most unusual galleries in Berlin. He built a penthouse for himself and his family on the roof of the bunker, covering almost the entire area.
Mitte is a good place to live. It doesn’t have to be your own home on top of an ex-bunker. You can find pearls of living everywhere in Mitte. The district rocks. It’s colourful, quirky, old, new – and above all hip. Restaurants, bars, boulevards, shopping streets. Wide avenues or narrow alleys, old splendid buildings from the Wilhelminian period or modern town houses. Mitte has it all.
Mitte offers a huge range of culture and history – and also of real estate. If you want to live in Mitte, you should not expect a bargain. Rental and purchase prices are high. However, Mitte, together with Zehlendorf, is one of the most stable districts in terms of value. If you want to sell your flat in Mitte, our experts will help you get the best price. And if you want to buy in Mitte – we are also the right contact. Guyla Turmeyer is looking forward to your call.